Monday, November 16, 2009


In today's New York Times there's yet another aren't-those-right-wingers-weird? article about the wingnut challenge to Charlie Crist's Senate campaign in Florida. Winger hero Marco Rubio, Crist's opponent in the primaries, is trailing Crist but gaining ground, and we're told, as we're told in all these articles, that Crist is deemed a traitor to the Cause, while Rubio is regarded by wingers as part of the force that can turn the GOP back into the purist enterprise it's supposed to be.

Which means they're ignoring evidence of his less-than-perfect devotion to the One True Wingnut Faith, as The Miami Herald has noted:

The candidate Rubio rails against big-government spending and assures voters that as a senator he won't slip earmarks into the federal budget. As speaker, however, he didn't mind a state budget with $800,000 tucked away for artificial turf on Miami-Dade fields where he played flag football.

The turf [was] listed as a juvenile crime prevention initiative....

He bashes Crist for pushing a cap-and-trade program to lower greenhouse emissions, but Rubio voted for the bill that specifically declared that the Legislature wants the state to pursue market-based strategies such as cap-and-trade....

Rubio has criticized Crist for seeking a gambling accord with the Seminole Tribe of Florida. But a House speaker can kill any legislation he wishes, and Rubio stood by as his chamber pursued the largest expansion of gambling in more than 15 years. (And he took some industry contributions, though he said it had no influence.) ...

As a candidate, Rubio talks about securing the nation's borders and says he does not support amnesty for the millions of illegal immigrants already in the country.

But as the first Cuban-American speaker of the Florida House, he came across as more moderate and understanding of the nuances of the issue. During Rubio's final year as speaker, there were at least six bills intended to crack down on illegal immigrants. Not one made it to a vote....

Rubio's fiscal conservatism was called into question as soon as he assumed the role of speaker. He spent hundreds of thousands on renovations, including a private dining room for lawmakers, hired the highest-paid spokesman in state government (one with no state government experience) and added more than 20 jobs, including a parliamentarian earning nearly $134,000....

Oh, and:

"He was a big disappointment to us when he was the speaker,'' said NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer, who saw Rubio do little to help pass a bill allowing employees to take guns to work. "He talked the talk, but he didn't walk the walk.''

(Rubio's still talking the talk -- he tweeted during the Iranian student protests that everything in Iran would be hunky-dory if Iran had a Second Amendment, a message he sent to #nra and #tcot aka Top Conservatives on Twitter.)

I think this matters because I think a lot of these teabag people are going to win their primaries -- and, given the Obama administration utter lack of response to anger about the economy, I think some of them are going to win general elections. If that happens in Rubio's case, I'm curious as to which Rubio is going to show up in the Senate.

This is also a concern for 2012, when Obama really might be vulnerable -- he certainly will be if we're in an L-shaped or double-dip recession. Tim Pawlenty is sounding less moderate than he used to. Sarah Palin, obviously, is a bomb-thrower -- but Palin coat-holders such as Matthew Continetti and Amy Siskind aren't completely off-base when they say she used to work across party lines a lot more than she seems inclined to now (to say the least). And, of course, there's the godfather of shameless flip-floppers, Mitt Romney, who is still courting the wingers.

I could almost see a small silver lining in the election of one of these people on a teabag platform -- horrible as most of the agenda would be, with the creationism and the Jack D. Ripper foreign policy and the economic neo-Hooverism, maybe a teabag president would be as good as his/her word on not bailing out Wall Street after the next bubble or second recessionary dip. Maybe it would take a President Teabag to end Too Big to Fail.

But that's not how it's going to go, is it? In fact, all of this seems reminiscent of Bushism -- Bush, who'd worked across party lines in Texas ran as "a uniter, not a divider" and simultaneously on a very right-wing platform. Then he got into office and decided to dance with the ones who brung him -- the neocons, the religious right, and the Laffer Curve crowd. We got an exterminate-the-brutes foreign policy, a push toward theocracy, and "deficits don't matter" tax cuts.

That's what we'll get from a teabag president, I think, especially a president who wasn't oriented that way until it became expedient -- no painful cuts in programs the heartland likes and no Ron Paul-style suspicion of Wall Street, just war and tax cuts. It'll basically be the Cheney administration (and hell, it may literally be the Cheney administration).*

*Bizarre typo fixed on last line.

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